Being charged with a juvenile offense is never something that should be taken lightly, and the Law Office of Earl Dobson in Denton is here to help Texas youth and their families get through these difficult times with the best possible outcome and future for the minor charged with crime or delinquency.
Juvenile offenses are taken very seriously in the state of Texas, and while minors have some advantages in juvenile court as opposed to criminal court, the consequences of a conviction can still be quite severe. Punishments for minors can range from probation and community service to life in prison without parole. Even without a harsh sentence, a conviction is in many ways more harmful to a youth than an adult, impacting their life at a critical juncture when lifetime decisions regarding education, employment, military service can all be negatively affected. Any juvenile arrest should be taken very seriously and referred to an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney.
Understanding What “Juvenile” and “Delinquent Conduct” Really Mean
One thing that many parents misunderstand is that these terms have specific legal definitions. Specifically:
- A juvenile is anyone who is at least 10 but not yet 17 when they committed an act that is stipulated as “delinquent conduct” according to the law.
- Delinquent conduct is understood as any conduct that would be considered criminal if it were performed by an adult and hence require jail time or even imprisonment.
The primary question to answer before knowing what will happen when your child is charged with a juvenile offense is whether or not they should be adjudicated through the juvenile court system or if they should be tried as an adult.
Possible Repercussions of a Juvenile Conviction
There are all kinds of repercussions that come from a juvenile conviction. Many of the most common in the state of Texas include:
- Court-ordered counseling
- Losing the privilege to drive
- Court-ordered community service
- A criminal record
- Probation or Deferred Prosecution
- Reduced job opportunities in many markets
- Ineligibility to many educational programs and colleges
- Mandatory time in a juvenile detention center
What’s more, there are social consequences they will have to endure in their schools, clubs, sports, and other activities. It’s clear that it is indeed in your child’s best interest to seek qualified legal representation if your child is charged with delinquent behavior. Even though the process is less formal than adult court, the consequences can be just as devastating. Your child’s future is not something you want to gamble by not having an attorney represent your child.
Juvenile Court Versus Criminal Court
Once arrested, many factors go into determining whether your child will be tried in juvenile court or criminal court. While the purpose of criminal court is arguably to punish offenders, the stated goal of juvenile court is to protect and rehabilitate the child. Juvenile court offers many diversion options as alternatives to detention or incarceration, including supervisory caution, deferred disposition, teen court, and community service. Also, it is easier to have a juvenile record expunged.
While this makes juvenile court seem preferable to criminal court, and in most cases it is, it is important to consider that it is easier to convict a minor in juvenile court, and a minor in juvenile court has less rights than one who is criminally-accused under the Constitution. Regardless, in situations where the court has the discretion and authority to choose, more and more juvenile cases these days are being sent to criminal court.
My Child Is In Detention, What Can I Do?
First, don’t panic. The good news is there are all kinds of options under Texas state law to get your child out of detention. One of the best strategies is to attack probable cause at the detention hearing. Texas law makes it clear that a court cannot hold a juvenile without probable cause. If you have any reason to suspect there may be an issue with probable cause, call our law offices today. Remember, probably cause requires both certainty that delinquent behavior occurred and that your child was the one responsible.
What’s more, getting involved at the direction of an experience juvenile criminal defense attorney will allow you to demonstrate your ability as parents to control, instruct, and address the behavior in question. This shows strong supervising initiative that will work in your favor in the eyes of the court.
There are several other strategies we can employ depending on the specific circumstances of your child’s case. All of which Earl Dobson and his team would be happy to discuss with you if you contact us.
Experienced Texas Criminal Law Attorney
Earl Dobson is experienced and able to help protect your child from a number of criminal charges, including, but not limited to:
- Theft and shoplifting
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Possession of illegal substances or drugs
- Juvenile Sex Crimes including sexting
- Possession of alcohol or tobacco
- Sexual Assault
- Underage DWI
- And many more…
Texas law takes juvenile offenses very seriously, with the potential for severe punishments and serious life-long consequences facing a convicted juvenile offender. Whether charged with a “juvenile” offense such as shoplifting, malicious mischief, or possession of alcohol, or a more serious “adult” crime like sexual assault or robbery, it is imperative that you obtain high-quality, experienced legal representation. If your child is charged with criminal conduct, delinquent conduct or conduct in need of supervision in Denton County, contact the Law Office of Earl Dobson for a free consultation to discuss your child’s best options for dealing with this situation.